One month after the fact, a video showing the 'naval' variant of the HAL Tejas during its maiden flight has appeared on YouTube. After being rolled out in July 2010, this variant only made its first flight nearly two years later, on 27 April 2012.
While the main landing gear on this variant appears to be more robust than that equipping the Tejas Mk. 1, I find it odd that the 'naval' variant has a single nose wheel. Typically, it is the carrier fighters (F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, F-14 Tomcat, etc.) that have two nose wheels. More bewildering yet, the Tejas Mk. 1 has two wheels. Odd. There are exceptions, such as the A-4 Skyhawk, but still.
This aircraft also does not appear to have an arrestor hook. While the ADA and HAL no doubt have a plan to add a hook at some point, I wonder how long will it take to get it working properly?
This programme's torturous history suggests that an effective hook could take years. Even the Lockheed Martin F-35C, which has sucked up infinitely more resources than the Tejas, has experienced early problems with its arrestor hook, calling for a substantial design re-think. It is worth remembering that the F-35C was developed by a nation with vast experience operating conventional carriers.
And what of the GE F414 engine? Originally plans called for naval Tejas to have an F414 power plant similar to the Tejas Mk. II. Yet, this aircraft has the F404. What gives? A while back an industry source told me that HAL had a few extra F404s in stock, so decided to go ahead and plug them into a 'naval' variant. Of course, all the Tejas variants were supposed to be powered by the ADE Kaveri engine, but let's not go there.
I would also be curious to know how the heavier landing gear of this 'naval' variant has affected the aircraft's weight. This is an important issue given that it has the same power plant as the reportedly overweight Mk. 1.
Aside from all that, it's a cool video. Worth watching twice.